Thomas Paine’s words – “These are the times that try men’s souls” – came to mind last Friday as business after business testified why they left California and relocated to Nevada.
I was honored to join with Republican Assembly Leader Mike Villines, State Sen. Sam Aanestad and nine other Republican Assembly members to do something that had never been done before.
We crossed state lines into Nevada on a fact-finding mission to understand specifically why many of business owners have uprooted their families, their lives, their hopes and dreams, and moved out of California.
As they departed, they took thousands of jobs with them, to pursue the American dream.
Why did they leave?
With more than 100 people in attendance for this historic forum, we heard heart-rending stories.
Business after business stepped up to the microphone explaining why it was impossible for them to stay in business – and stay in California.
Time after time businesses spoke of draconian regulations by state agencies, with un-elected people playing a game of gotcha, intent on making it as difficult as possible to stay in California – and provide jobs for Californians.
We heard testimony asking us to demand that the California Air Resources Board, CalOSHA and other state agencies with unprecedented powers hire people who will work with businesses to ensure compliance with regulations – rather than take adversarial approaches that shut them down.
In short, California has created a monster by allowing non-elected bureaucrats define and interpret the vague legislation our state government has rolled out over the last 10 years.
One startling piece of testimony came from a Northern California resident who lives next to a peach orchard and brought a jar full of peaches he bought at a local store.
On the jar it stated grown in China, packaged in Mexico. Why? It costs less to buy this jar of peaches from China than to buy a jar of peaches next door.
Another business owner stated he was dogged by so much state regulation and high taxes that he felt unwelcome in California.
They treat you like an enemy, not like someone who is creating wealth and jobs and opportunity, said Steve Patmont, owner of Patmont Motor Werks, who moved his business from Pleasanton to Nevada.
“Nevada is a place that appreciates those of us who are job creators,” he testified. “I went to Nevada and they rolled out the red carpet. I say ‘God Bless America’ and ‘Thank God for Nevada.’”
Assemblyman Villines repeatedly asked the participants if they were asked by state or local officials why they were leaving and what could be done to change their minds. All stated that no one asked that question – not one.
One of the most interesting speakers was Kris Holt, who is hired by businesses in Nevada to travel to California and recruit businesses to Nevada.
He said that California’s hostile business climate and high taxes has made his job easy.
“California is the feeder state for our job recruitment,” he said. “The State of Nevada is very grateful for California’s over regulation and over taxation of business.”
Eighty percent of the out-of-state businesses that relocate to Nevada come from California, Holt said.
Some business owners decried that California’s judicial system, which leads to frivolous lawsuits that over burden businesses. California ranks as the 45th worst legal system in the United States.
In rating taxes in California on a national level we are ranked No. 48 in over all tax, while Nevada is ranked No. 3. California is ranked No. 45 in corporate tax and Nevada is ranks No. 1. California is ranked No. 49 in individual tax while Nevada is again ranked No. 1.
The list, unfortunately, goes on and on.
Add to all of this the new regulations created by AB 32 and the future doesn’t look bright.
It is time – right now – for our state to change course. We have a severe job crisis, with unemployment now over 11 percent and standing as one of the highest in the nation.
We must immediately move to embrace pro-job policies that will help keep the jobs we have and attract new ones. Too many families and communities have already been devastated by our state’s anti-job stance. The time for action is now.